One of the questions that my clients often ask me is “what should we look to innovate? Should we be looking at creating new innovative products and services, or innovating in our processes to increase efficiencies?”
There is no easy answer to that, other than to innovate in those areas where you will get the maximum benefit.
Interestingly my thoughts on what areas could be innovated expanded after I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Moorehead and Ryan McCarty the co-founds of Culture of Good (www.cultureofgood.com).
Scott Moorehead is the CEO of TCC which was a thriving Telecommunications business which had over 800 stores and 3000 staff operating in the US Midwest. The business was successful with revenues of around $200m, although it was growing quickly Scott knew it needed to have a different culture if he wanted the business to continue to scale. He was also concerned that even though he had found success, he hadn’t created happiness for himself or his family.
Around this time Scott heard Pastor Ryan McCarty speaking about building a Culture of Good in the community. Scott was so captivated by the idea that he wanted to not only incorporate it into his company’s culture but make it the basis of that culture. He quickly brought in Ryan, and they worked together on what that could look like.
As with all innovations, it didn’t always go smoothly, and there were a few hiccups along the way. But eventually, they got the mix right and started to build momentum.
Innovating employee engagement
The big breakthrough came when they decided to do a backpack giveaway at the start of the new school year providing over 60,000 backpacks to school kids with much-needed school supplies included.
On a Saturday before the start of the school year, they invited local children to come into the stores to pick up their backpack. This created what they later called their Employee moments, the reaction from the local community was intense, children crying and hugging staff, it was an emotional occasion which helped to embed the desire within the staff for the Culture of Good to become part of the company’s DNA.
Looking to build on this quickly, Scott and Ryan added additional events; they also gave each member of staff to additional paid days which they could use to work with a charity or cause of their choice.
Now you might be thinking, so this is a nice story but what’s really innovative about this. How does it benefit Scott’s company, as his company sells mobile phones, they’re not a charity or not for profit.
Well here’s the rub. By building a Culture of Good, Scott and Ryan boosted their employee engagement which then overflowed into the core areas of their business, which led to improved service and increased customer satisfaction. It also helped reduce attrition by 25% which had an impact on costs.
Not only that but their suppliers became more engaged, one of them offering to provide an additional 100,000 backpacks for the giveaway.
Customers become more engaged as they could see the benefits to their local community and wanted to get in on the act too.
The bottom line impact of the Culture of Good?
In just over four years it helped Scott increase his company’s revenue by 200% to $600m and operating income by 490%
So when people ask me now ‘in which areas of the business should they innovate,’ I have now added Employee, Customer, Community and Supplier Engagement.
When it comes to innovation, we need to think above and beyond just the core products and business processes, as we could be missing out on some amazing opportunities.